Contention is a relative term. As of right now, the Giants don’t look like the greatest team in the world. They have a negative run differential (-17), are in fourth place, and their playoff odds range from 24% (Baseball Prospectus) to 19% (Cool Standings). Those are not particularly rosy predictors for future success and it was certainly not the game plan Brian Sabean drew up before the season. However, since they’re only 3.5 games back in the division they are a decent couple weeks of baseball away from first place.
So if the Giants are going to do something to strengthen their team to try make it to the playoffs and potentially defend their title, we need to get an idea where the Giants should target to make improvements. To do that, first we need to take a look at where they are right now.
This table shows the aggregate production for the Giants by position. And for the first time in what seems like a decade, the Giants don’t have any major glaring holes on offense.
The column labeled sOPS+ shows what the Giants have gotten out of each position relative to the league average hitter at that position. The Giants have four positions where they have gotten excellent production, two where they have been roughly league average and two where they are slightly below average.
Regardless of how good the table looks, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. The injury bug has not been kind, taking out Angel Pagan until at least mid-September, Pablo Sandoval for the last couple weeks, not to mention Marco Scutaro, Brandon Crawford and now Joaquin Arias.
With all of the injuries, the Giants could use some depth — especially in the outfield with Pagan needing surgery on his hamstring, and possibly in the infield depending on the extent of Arias’ hamstring injury. But overall, things aren’t too bad. With 319 runs the Giants are the 5th highest scoring team in the National League and should be able to score enough as long as they don’t lose too many more players.
Coming up tomorrow: a look at how the Giants stack up in the pitching department.